Mark’s triumph

Flagg Races 2011, Mark Caley winner of the members race
Flagg Races 2011, Mark Caley winner of the members race

IT was all smiles for Buxton rider Mark Caley who made it two wins in three years at Flagg Races.

He won the High Peak Hunt’s Members Race at the popular Easter Tuesday event with his horse Twist and Shout.

Flagg Races 2011, Mark Caley brings home Twist and Shout to win the members race

Flagg Races 2011, Mark Caley brings home Twist and Shout to win the members race

They pair never looked likely to be caught after a great start. “It was brilliant,” said Mark. “It was his best ever run. He loves the hard ground. He just pulled me into everything.”

First in 2009 and second last year, Mark was delighted to win again on his horse – bought for just £350. “I was debating about his fitness to start with but as soon as he went he really felt fantastic.

“Last year was head-to-head and we were going too fast too soon but this year he really found a good rhythm.”

The race for second was tight right to the end, with Pip Clayton second on Young Archie andMick Blake ridden by Rachel McQueen third.

Flagg Races 2011, Maddy Lewis jumps the first fence in the Maiden Race

Flagg Races 2011, Maddy Lewis jumps the first fence in the Maiden Race

Event spokeswoman Jo Burnett, said: “Hopefully we have had over 5,000 people through the turnstiles today.”

The ever-popular event saw two pony races for juniors held this year followed by a full race card.

Organisers usually have a problem with wet weather but this year they found themselves having to arrange for the course to be watered to prevent the ground from being too hard.

A million litres of river water was used with a team in action for the five evenings up to the event.

Jo said: “We had to transport it from the river by tractor to the course.”

Fortunately the ‘mud budget’ usually used to deal with difficult conditions and help vehicles leave the site was put to good use to fund the water transfer instead.

For the High Peak Hunt the long winter and recession has had an impact on membership so Flagg Races, their main fund-raising event, was even more important this year.

Its members race remains the only one under Jockey Club rules that is held over natural stone walls. “It is a piece of history and needs to be retained,” said Jo.